Researchers Discover a Connection Between Heart Disease, Mental illness, and Pollutants

Researchers have found a connection between stress, sadness, and pollution that increases the risk of heart disease death for middle-aged persons residing in low-quality air areas.

In the US, researchers looked at PM2.5 concentrations in the air across 3,000 counties, which are home to 315 million people.

They discovered a connection between people’s mental and physical health and the air they breathe.

Dr. Shady Abohashem, the study’s lead author, from the Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, said, “Our study indicates the air we breathe affects our mental well-being, which in turn impacts heart health.”

Previous research has connected mental illness and air pollution to early mortality.

The goal of the study was to determine whether poor mental health and air pollution are linked to one another and affect cardiovascular disease mortality jointly.

They concentrated on particles with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers since they pose the greatest health danger and are produced by burning wood, power plant combustion, and automobile exhaust emissions.

Baseline exposure to PM2.5 was classified as excessive or low based on World Health Organization guidelines.

The average number of days that people had mental health problems, such as stress, depression, and emotional difficulties, was then recorded by the researchers.

The counties with the highest percentage of days with poor mental health were found to be in the top third.

Compared to counties with cleaner air, those with the highest PM2.5 concentrations had a 10% higher likelihood of reporting high levels of days with poor mental health.

Researchers found that counties with a significant concentration of poverty or minority groups had a “markedly” higher risk.

In counties with greater air pollution levels, there was a stronger correlation between heart disease-related premature mortality and poor mental health.

Compared to places with more well-being, these counties had a three-fold increase in early cardiovascular death for higher levels of poor mental health.

In these counties, compared to better-off areas, there was a three-fold increase in early cardiovascular death for every degree of poor mental health.

According to the researchers, the increased burden of poor mental health accounted for one-third of the pollution-related risk of premature cardiovascular deaths.

Dr. Abohashem stated, “Our results reveal a dual threat from air pollution: it not only worsens mental health but also significantly amplifies the risk of heart-related deaths associated with poor mental health,”

“Public health strategies are urgently needed to address both air quality and mental wellbeing in order to preserve cardiovascular health.”

On Friday at ESC Preventive Cardiology 2024 in Athens, the results will be revealed.

According to recent research, by analyzing neighborhood settings, Google Street View can be used to forecast the risk of coronary heart disease.

The study, which was published in the European Heart Journal, examined the impact of common environments on heart health, including the state of buildings, roads, and green areas.

Through research, the relationship between various environmental factors, such as pollution levels, and the risk of coronary heart disease—a disorder in which blockages in the heart’s arteries restrict blood flow to the heart—was established.

They discovered that 63% of the variations in heart disease risk between communities could be explained by these neighborhood features.